Business applications software suppliers have, in recent years, been on a route march to the cloud. To what extent this has been driven by customer demand, and to what extent by investor demand is an open question.
A whole host of cloud-born applications vendors – such as Salesforce, Workday, Netsuite (part of Oracle since 2016), and SuccessFactors (part of SAP since 2011) – has arisen to challenge long-established firms, like SAP and Oracle. However, the pure-play cloud vendors have mostly specialised in specific functional areas, like HR, sales automation, and CRM – as opposed to the core business of planning an enterprise’s resources to carry out its central mission as efficiently as possible (ERP, to use the well-worn acronym).
For a long time now, (on-premises) ERP has been an important but sleepy aspect of enterprise IT. But is the time for cloud ERP now? Oracle, SAP, and smaller, more niche players, like Infor and Unit4 seem to be saying “yes”, but how is that in the interests of their large corporate customers, who have invested masses of capital in enterprise software since the 1990s?
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